Headaches Part 8: Qi Stagnation, also known as “Liver Qi Stagnation”, “Qi Stasis”, or “Blockage of Qi”.

III. Qi Stagnation, also known as “Liver Qi Stagnation”, “Qi Stasis”, or “Blockage of Qi”.

This is the basic pattern of blockage of energy flow in the body, and if untreated, can lead to more severe patterns, commonly Blood Stagnation. The main difference between Qi Stagnation and Blood Stagnation is that in Qi Stagnation the pain is often moving around in the body, or the headache is moving locations in the head, and the pain can be strong, but it is not fixed in one location or sharp like a knife, as in Blood Stagnation.
1) The primary symptom of this pattern is emotional imbalance. It can manifest similarly to symptoms 12 and 13 under the first pattern described as “Liver Yang Rising” or “Liver Fire” (anger, rage, violence, etc.) but is usually milder in nature. It more commonly manifests as mental irritation, impatience, maybe mild temper tantrums, depression swinging to pent up anger, anxiety, self-doubts, crying, stress and nervous tension in general.
2) The headache often occurs in the forehead or temples, and can change sides or location in general. It is usually fairly intense, but not necessarily throbbing like a “Liver Yang Rising” pattern headache. Pain which changes locations in the head or body in general is the hallmark symptom of this pattern.
3) Digestive problems which includes poor digestion, belching (eructation), gas or flatulence, small clumpy stools, obstruction of bowel movements or feeling of incomplete bowel movements, abdominal pain or distention, a feeling of a foreign body or a lump stuck in the throat or esophagus (globus hystericus), or vomiting.
4) General fatigue or tiredness
5) Pain, discomfort, tightness, distention, pressure, pulling or moving pain in the side of the chest, ribcage, lower flanks (hypochondrial) or lower abdominal area. A sensation of “stuffiness” in the chest/abdomen.
6) Frequent sighing
7) Cold hands and feet, or poor circulation in general.
8) Goiter or a swelling of the thyroid gland in the neck
9) Blurred vision or dry and distended eyes.
10) Constipation with stools shaped like pebbles but not dry, commonly with a desire to go to the bathroom, but difficulty in doing so.
11) This headache is usually aggravated by emotional states, especially anger, resentment, frustration, or feeling “stuck” mentally; inactivity or sitting at a desk all day; any repressed states, physical or emotional; cold climate or cold natured food. It is usually alleviated by relaxation or resolution of repressed states, movement and activity, and warming and circulating foods (like aromatic herbs) and/or climates (like mild warmth and wind). It is often better after sex or smoking a cigarette (no joke, this is often reported by patients) as both circulate the Qi, although I do not advocate the latter.
12) For women this often shows up as PMS moodiness, over-sensitivity, and irritability in general; often includes distention, pain, lumps, or sensitivity of the breasts; menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea) which gets better at the onset of menstrual flow; blood clots or dark purple blood in the menses; and irregular or short menstrual cycles. This pattern untreated often leads to PCOD (polycystic ovarian disease), ovarian cysts, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and infertility
13) The classic tongue is more red than normal, especially on the sides of the tongue, and has a thin, often slightly yellow, coating.
14) The classic pulse is called wiry, which is rather forceful or excess, feeling like a wire or thick guitar string pushing up on the finger (not smooth, but constrained)

This pattern often leads to other patterns including “Blood Stagnation” and “Turbid Phlegm” and less often to “Cold Stagnation in the Liver” and “Turbid Phlegm with Wind”. These pattern symptoms are described below. You may have multiple symptoms of “Liver Qi Stagnation” and also a few of the symptoms of another pattern below. A few symptoms in a group may show a mild tendency or affliction of another pattern. Remember it is the predominant pattern which you are trying to identify (i.e. you have many symptoms in one category).

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